Bad Education

Just in case there was any lingering doubt about the new paint on Cherry

Think of paint on the road as an education. This lane and bicycle marking teaches different things to different types of people.

To motorists who know little about bicycling, it teaches them that the gutter is the appropriate place to ride a bicycle — out of the way of the real street users who drive cars. It teaches that bicyclists are second-class street users.

To the novice bicyclist, it teaches that riding far to the right — in the gutter, along a seam, and on an uneven plane with nowhere to maneuver — is safe. The city wouldn’t put novices in danger, right? So this must be safe.

To people like me, well, it teaches that something awful is happening in Springfield — we competent and confident bicyclists (not stereotypical road warriors) may be losing our rights to the streets as motorists learn the wrong lesson and, perhaps, politicians codify our marginalization through “must use” laws.

It will be interesting to see what effect these lanes have. So far, most of the recently-added lanes have been outside the urban core (exceptions on Grant and Fremont). Will participation increase? Or, more cynically, will the city enjoy moving up to silver bicycle-friendly community status because the League of American Bicyclists loves paint — any kind of paint?

My thanks to local bicycling dude Jim Phillips for allowing me to use his photo!

UPDATE: The chatter continues on the Bicycle Friendly Springfield group on Facebook. No one is defending this lane.

UPDATE: There’s a post on the BFS group  saying there are new lanes on Bennett east of Glenstone. I’ll get over there to check asap.

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Comments 6

  1. Keith wrote:

    I agree totally. I was shocked to see these lanes show up on Cherry! I am not interested in getting flats when I ride, so I will definately not be using them. This portion of the street was already wide enough (with the turning lanes) to accommodate both cyclists and motorized vehicles comfortably. Now, I get honked at because I don’t know my place is in the gutter!!

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 10:29 am
  2. Anthony wrote:

    Sad to see it, especially on a part of Cherry that was easy for novices.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 10:31 am
  3. Mighk Wilson wrote:

    Aside from the broader principles Andy has addressed, this bikeway is a liability risk for the city. The AASHTO minimum bike lane width is 5 feet to the curb face, with a minimum of 3 feet of smooth pavement to the left of the gutterpan seam.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 10:49 am
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Mighk… Thanks for pointing that out. Maybe someone will take notice.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 11:12 am
  5. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Andy, I sent you the section from the AASHTO guide last week. I suggest you or someone take that to the next city council or mayor’s meeting along with a lawyer and point out that this is a liability when someone suffers a diversion fall on the gutter pan seam and falls in front of a car.

    Better yet–how about a crit mass ride.

    Your traffic engineer is a fool for approving this. He should lose his license.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 3:32 pm
  6. Bike Tours wrote:

    You should talk to the mayor or something. That is not a normal bike lane and can cause only accidents.

    Posted 16 Sep 2012 at 6:56 am